Labor Party candidate Dr. Einat Kalisch Rotem
made history Tuesday, when she defeated Haifa mayor Yona Yahav and became the first woman elected to head one of Israel’s largest cities.
The win was a boost for Labor, which has fallen on tough times. Yahav was close to Labor leader Avi Gabbay
’snemesis, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
“This was a huge victory for Haifa,” Gabbay said. “Einat proved that with hard work and determination, the polls can be defeated. Good luck to our mayor and to all residents of Haifa.”
Kalisch Rotem was also backed by haredi (ultra-Orthodox) residents of the city, who were eager to defeat Yahav, who had been mayor since 2003. She has a doctorate in architecture and urban planning and teaches at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s graduate school.
She received a boost on October 22, when the Supreme Court decided to allow her to run, overturning a district court decision disqualifying her candidacy. The district court had said she could not run because her attorney and the Labor Party had submitted both her candidacy and that of another candidate, Yisrael Savyon.
Besides Kalisch Rotem, new women mayors include Yeroham’s Tal Ohana, the Gezer Regional Council’s Rotem Yadlin, Emek Hefer Regional Council’s Galit Shaul and Oshrat Ronen of the Drom Hasharon Regional Council.
They will join current female mayors who were reelected: Miriam Feierberg of Netanya, Liat Shohat of Or Yehuda, Lizi Delarice of Ganei Tikva and Mati Tzarfati of Yoav Regional Council.
Current Yehud-Monosson Mayor Yaela Maklis will face a second round of voting. Other women running in run-off races include Kadima-Tzuran’s Keren Green, Hagar Perry Yagur of Pardess Hanna-Karkur, Yifat Kariv of Hod Hasharon, Michal Rikin of the Golan Regional Council and Ruti Kelner of Kiryat Tivon.
It is still unclear whether Aliza Bloch won in Beit Shemesh, where counting of absentee ballots of soldiers is expected later Wednesday.
In another victory for women, the Knesset will get its record 36th female MK when Osnat Mark replaces new Beit She’an Mayor Jackie Levy in the Likud faction. Mark was the next candidate on the Likud list.
Shosh Kahlon won the Kfar Yona elections, ousting Efi Derei after 41 years in office.